Magnitude 5.5 Quake Hits Australia’s Northwest

January 29, 2021 Updated: January 29, 2021

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck in the northwest of Australia, Geoscience Australia said.

The quake occurred in the Timor Sea at 6.47 a.m. AEDT on Saturday, about 300 kilometres north-northwest of the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia at a depth of 20 kilometres.

No tsunami warning has been issued.

Geoscience Australia’s Senior Seismologist Phil Cummins told The Epoch Times on Saturday that the northwest shelf of Australia is an area of relatively heightened seismicity relative to the rest of the country.

In Australia, earthquakes measuring a magnitude 3 and above occur about “half a dozen” times a year, while earthquakes measuring 4 and above happen about twice a year, and those above 5 happen every couple of years, Cummins said.

Saturday morning’s seismic event follows a magnitude 3.3 earthquake off the west coast of Broome in the state yesterday at a depth of 10 kilometres.

The biggest earthquake recorded in Australia was a magnitude 6.6 that occurred west of Broome in July 2019. “There were certainly aftershocks in that earthquake,” Cummins said.

He added that Saturday’s quake could potentially be an aftereffect. “It’s not that surprising even after a couple of years, to have aftershocks occur,” he said.

Three other seismic events were detected along the west coast of Australia in January: a 2.7 northeast of Geraldton on Jan. 23, a 2.1 southeast of Geraldton on Jan. 25, and a 2.3 southeast of Perth on Jan. 27.

The east coast of Australia saw three seismic events in January as well: a 3.5 near Stawall in western Victoria on Jan. 15, a 2.3 near the Lake Kanalgulk Wildlife Reserve in western Victoria on Jan. 26, and a 2.4 near Yass north of Canberra on Jan. 29.

“Those are relatively small earthquakes,” Cummins said, adding that they’re not particularly unusual.

Like the northwest shelf, the southeast part of Australia is also an area of relatively heightened seismicity for the country, he said.

Geoscience Australia wrote on Twitter on Jan. 29: “Did you feel the earth move this afternoon in Yass, NSW? Geoscience Australia detected a 2.4 magnitude earthquake at 4.35pm local time.”

They encouraged anyone who felt the earthquake to report it on their site.

Follow Caden on Twitter: @cadenpearson